Published Feb 24, 2015Many people have said it: there is no sense in reinventing the wheel. And as a standard four-piece pop band — guitar, bass, drums and keyboards — there aren't too many chances to deviate from the tried and tested formula, anyway. Yet on their sophomore effort, the Elwins make a mostly strong case for sticking with a classic guitar-pop sound.
There's nothing particularly unexpected on Play For Keeps for anyone who has crossed paths with the band before, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The synth-heavy songs like the horribly titled "Sexual Intellectual" are reminiscent of hellogoodbye, whereas the guitar-led ones lean more heavily towards the likes of Arkells or Hollerado.
Overall, the album is almost unrelentingly upbeat and bouncy, albeit with a lack of bite. So when the buzzing guitars kick in on "So Down Low," there's a release of wonderfully exuberant tension that they unfortunately don't repeat often enough. Some more spikiness like this would have really helped to punctuate the 12 songs when they begin to merge together.
As it stands, there's plenty to like about Play For Keeps: the lads from Keswick, Ontario do know have to craft a catchy song, and there's a handful here that you'll keep humming for quite a while after the record finally stops spinning. (Hidden Pony)